The original General Motors’ profiler was developed by Elson Spangler and William Kelly in the 1960s but it was another 20 years before the technology was readily available to state DOTs, enterprising vendors and independent service providers.
This was mainly due to the pioneering work done by Dave Huft at the South Dakota Department of Transport (SDDOT) in the early 1980s. Prior to this, inertial profilers were expensive and only a handful of States were operating them. SDDOT set about designing a low cost, high speed road profiling system using ultrasonics in place of more expensive height measurement transducers. As with any prototyping this meant experimenting with electronic circuitry on wire wrap boards and making the best use of the computing power available at the time such as the DEC PDP-11 mini computer. By 1982 they had an operational profiler.
As more states became aware of the technology, the replication and use of the SD road profiler increased and SDDOT became a focal point for DOTs who had built or were interested in building their own SD profilers. It was not unusual for a State to bring its profiler to South Dakota for some comparative testing and SDDOT were always happy to share their profiler knowledge with others.
In 1988, SDDOT hosted a meeting for engineers and practitioners who were interested in seeing the SD profiler and observing it in operation. This first meeting attracted considerable interest from the surrounding states.
The FHWA (Doyt Bolling, Ron Carmichael) recognised the need for a forum to help educate others about this relatively new technology and how profilers could be used for managing pavements. Following the success of the 1988 meeting and with the support of the FHWA, RPUG was born. The first meeting under the RPUG banner was hosted by SDDOT in Pierre, South Dakota on November 14-16, 1989.
Over time, the focus of RPUG expanded from data collection and operational aspects to include the analysis and application of the profiler’s outputs to help manage pavements. With advances in sensor technology and the rapid increase in affordable and portable computing power, the range of outputs increased to include a variety of other surface characteristics such as rutting, texture, cracking, noise and friction.
This web page endeavours to present a brief history of each RPUG meeting and provide interested parties with access to materials from those meetings, e.g. meeting announcements, results of field tests, photographs etc.
If you have any photos or information you would like to contribute to the RPUG history website please contact the RPUG website.